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Should You Have a Portfolio?

This is a chapter from the book A Lesser Photographer.

“Just another couple of snowflakes in the big art establishment blizzard.” — Hugh MacLeod

I don’t have a portfolio. I don’t want one. It serves no purpose I can justify.

I realize why people want it. It’s so easy to create an online portfolio today, it’s become the gold standard for judging a photographer’s worth. Everybody can have one, so everybody should.

But what are you trying to accomplish by assembling a portfolio, online or offline?

Is it attention? If so, that’s probably the worst strategy. If you have great stories to tell, there are far better venues for getting attention than a portfolio.

Is it credibility? That’s always a losing battle. The closer you get to your goal, the less you innovate. Trends become your friends.

Is it clients? You’re trying to be a pro, which is fine, but then we’re talking about commerce, not necessarily art. There’s a different set of rules to apply.

Critics will gladly pick apart your portfolio to compensate for their lack of judgment. I don’t see a reason to play by their rules.